Bryleigh Fox scores 27 as West Central Girls open with win

WINCHESTER — The 2022-23 West Central women’s basketball team looks a lot like some of the good Cougar teams of yesteryear.

An efficient all-terrain press. An imposing inner presence. And a guard who, at times, looks like the all-time great Midwest Annika Kaufmann.

Bryleigh Fox scored 27 points, Gabby Sievers had 9 and Brylee Lawson added 8 as the Cougars opened the season Monday night with a 53-35 victory over Pleasant Hill-Western in the new coach’s opener- Chief Jason Likes.

“It’s one of those where – go home and watch the movie,” said Likes, a longtime assistant who took over this year from coach Brian Bettis, who quit at the end of the season. last. “I saw a bit of rust in us…maybe some nerves. But I also saw very good basketball. I saw some things in defense that we need to improve on, bounce back. Offensively, I can’t be mad at what the offense did. We just didn’t score as well as we probably would, could or should. But it’s a good sign because we still managed the game and did a good job of keeping them at bay, and we can go back to the drawing board and just work on the finishing moves.

With West Central leading 10-6 late in the first quarter, Fox was fouled from the arc 3-pointer at the buzzer and made all three free throws to extend the Cougars’ lead to 13- 6 at the start of the second quarter.

Fox scored West Central’s first 12 points in the second period as the Cougars’ lead climbed to 25-8. Fox hit a pair of free throws, two layups and two three-pointers. Pleasant Hill-Western ran the ball on six straight trips during the run, with interceptions by West Central’s Sievers and Vickie McGee. Trystan White hit a three to make it 28-8, and the Cougars led 28-13 at halftime. Pleasant Hill-Western never came within 12 points of the rest of the way.

After starting as a freshman, Fox did not play last year. “She’s a special player,” Likes said. “She’ll be a player to watch all year, and it’s going to be fun to sit on the sidelines and have her on our side for sure.”

The West Central press did the right thing, especially in the first half.

“I don’t know if we’ve created a ton of sales, but we’ve exhausted them,” Likes said. “And we may have rushed them a little here and there. So in the long run it’s one of those things that has an effect in the end – although I saw us tired too. So we have to work on the formatting to be able to manage our own style. But you’re probably never in good shape until you’ve had that first game, I think.

The likes had a rotation of eight players on Monday night, with three more taking the pitch at the very end – a luxury unheard of in recent times at West Central, which has struggled with numbers for the past two years. With 14 players on the roster, Fox and Lawson didn’t have to play every minute of the game. “It’s nice to just hit that bench,” Likes said. “We’re pretty deep and we have girls that have different skills that can bring a different look. They don’t just come to take care of the game. They will add their own personality to the game. It’s really exciting as a coach.

The likes said it felt good to get his first win.

“It’s a crew I’m proud to have,” he said. “I wouldn’t trade them for anyone. We had girls who played tonight, at JV and college level, probably played the best game they’ve ever played. And we’re just getting started.

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